Iowa Pork Producers Grill (with) 2016 Presidential Candidates

What flipping burgers in Iowa says about presidential candidates.

“The way they one-on-one with you makes a big difference," tent volunteer Dana "Spanky" Wanken said. "You ask a question, they take time to answer it. Just don’t come for the photo-op. Be your normal self."

The Pork Tent hosted 17 presidential candidates and served over 50,000 pounds of pork at the 11-day 2015 fair that ended Aug. 23.

"It’s a very happening place,” Iowa Pork Producers Association president Dave Struthers said. ”We sell a lot of pork, get a lot of publicity, and everyone wants to show that they’re a real guy or a real lady, down to earth and can hang with the Pork Producers.”

“When candidates arrive, they receive an apron with their name sewn into it and head straight for the grill cooking the fair’s most popular treat, pork chop on a stick.

Volunteer Wanken said it’s his job to help the candidates grill because many of them don't have time to do it.

“You ought to be able to flip a burger,” he said. “I don’t know what it says {if they can't]. Just says somebody else does all the cooking, in my book.”

At one point, with a spatula in one hand and a pork chop on a stick in the other, Christie asked for pork patties. Wanken said he was impressed by Christie's cooking skills.

"He knew what he was doing. ...He wanted to stay and help finish them, but he had to go. When you’re on a time schedule, you’re on a time schedule,” he said. “Nothing you can do about it."

Iowa produces one-third of the nation’s pork, thanks to the state's ideal weather conditions, which allow farmers to grow corn and soy beans to feed the pigs.

"It’s basically the whole circle-of-life kind of thing,” Struthers, the pork association president, said. “Raise the crops, feed the animals, and the animals produce fertilizer for the crops, which feed the hogs again.”

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